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Grazing Rangelands

Program Contact: Tipton D Hudson, Associate Professor
509-962-7507 •

The West has oceans of sagebrush and cheatgrass that are largely the product of decades of unsustainable season-long growing-season grazing at moderate to heavy stocking rates.  Sustainable rangeland grazing accomplishes a radical goal—producing food and fiber on naturally occurring ecosystems while allowing those lands to produce less tangible “goods and services” such as wildlife habitat, open space, clean water, clean air, recreation areas at the same time and on the same space.

Doing this well requires proactively thinking about domestic grazing animals will affect plant communities and soils and planning for the direct and indirect effects of the grazing animal to have a positive influence on soils and plants.

There are 4 major components to successful grazing management:

  1. Planning based on sound principles
  2. Executing good grazing practices (and your plan)
  3. Measuring results of grazing on the plant community
  4. Use monitoring results to adjust future grazing plans

The WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources has published case studies on farming and ranching operations that provide summaries of relevant biophysical, economic, and social science data that inform when and how these strategies might work in other places.

WSU Extension can help you develop or improve a sustainable grazing program on dryland pasture, native rangeland, dry forest types, and seeded rangeland.